Health Department Encourages Testing During STD Awareness Month

For Immediate Release, April 23, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – April is STD Awareness Month, an annual observance to raise awareness about the impact of sexually transmitted diseases and an opportunity to encourage anyone who is sexually active to get tested.

A sharp rise in the number of cases of syphilis (11 cases last year compared to an average of two to three cases in previous years), is one other reason why the Vermont Department of Health is promoting STD Awareness Month. Based on 2007 data, Vermont had the third greatest percentage increase in syphilis cases. New Hampshire was fourth.

“Symptoms are not always evident or obvious, and if left undiagnosed and untreated, syphilis and other STDs can cause serious harm,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “All sexually active Vermonters should be tested for STDs. It’s a classic example of: ‘What you don’t know can hurt you.’”

In addition to syphilis, the Vermont Department of Health also monitors for two other STDs -- chlamydia and gonorrhea. Last year, over 1,000 cases of chlamydia and 63 cases of gonorrhea were reported. Unlike syphilis, the number of cases of these diseases has remained relatively stable.

Chlamydia is by far the most-reported STD. Because many people infected with chlamydia do not have symptoms or do not seek testing or care, cases go undiagnosed and unreported. If left untreated, up to 40 percent of women with chlamydia will develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and up to 20 percent will become infertile. Only about a quarter of all cases of chlamydia are actually diagnosed, according to the 2008 Health Status of Vermonters report.

Individuals can receive testing through their health care provider or at one of several clinics throughout the state. To locate a clinic, call the Vermont Department of Health’s STD Program at 802-863-7245 or 1-800-244-7639 (within Vermont), or visit our website at www.healthvermont.gov. Several clinics offer testing for free or at reduced costs.

For more information about National STD Awareness Month, please visit:  www.cdcnpin.org/stdawareness.

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